Holy shit, holy shit, I think as I wake in a daze, scared.
“Mummy, mummy!” a little voice next to me says. “What is that noise?”
Shit, I was hoping she wouldn’t wake up.
It’s three in the morning and the Devil (let’s just call my abuser the Devil so we don’t get confused) is back.
My daughter sleeps with me now, in a home I rented approximately one hour away from my parents’ home. She sleeps with me because the Devil’s mother, on numerous occasions, I don’t know how many times, would drive to our residence in the middle of the night, park down the street, and then enter our back yard through the side gate. A chair from the outdoor setting I had purchased for barbeques would be moved to just outside my daughter’s bedroom window.
The Devil’s mother would then stand on the chair and speak with my daughter until she woke up, trying to entice her to open her bedroom window.
For every book and course you purchase for a woman living in domestic violence, Mel will donate 20% on a rotating monthly basis to help the organisations working with domestic violence suffers, commencing with White Ribbon.
My daughter would tell me the next morning, “Grandma talked to me last night”. This occurred on numerous occasions until one morning I asked my daughter, “Where does Grandma speak to you?” I thought she meant it was in her dreams. My daughter replied innocently, “Grandma talks to me through my window”.
That morning as my daughter ate her breakfast, I went out the back and there was one of my outdoor chairs placed in a weird position near the wall under my daughter’s bedroom window. When I stood on the chair I could see directly through the crack in the curtain to my daughter’s bed.
From that day forward, my daughter slept with me.
Now, lying in our bed, I whisper, “Shush, shush, my love, remember our game, ‘Let’s Be Quiet’?”
My daughter nods her head and puts her tiny hand over her mouth. She is approximately three, three and a half years old. I am thinking to myself, Shit, shit, what do I do? I need to protect her! Where is he?
I am terrified, with so many thoughts running through my head. Most importantly, I must stop the Devil from getting in. I am paralysed and cannot move, hiding under the covers with my little princess. I feel so helpless.
I’ve told the Devil we are over, so why won’t he just leave me alone?
Shit, I think again. I can’t endure another beating or rape. I can’t let her see this again.
Should I try again to confront him?
Try to calm him down?
If I open the door, maybe he will be different this time?
Can I hide my daughter under the bed in the spare room and tell her to go to sleep?
If I let him in and don’t make a noise, if I just agree to whatever he wants, maybe he won’t bash me. Maybe he will just rape me and then go away.
Is he alone? Are there others this time?
What if I open the door and he kills me?
I start fighting the internal mental fight:
Hold it together, you need to be strong. He has threatened to kill you, he has threatened to take your daughter and threatened you will never see her again. Is he capable of killing her, too? You need to pull yourself together for your daughter.
But deep in the back of my mind I feel empty. I’m so tired. If not for my daughter, I would just want him to kill me. I can’t do this anymore; I don’t want to live like this.
My daughter places her other little hand on my shoulder. Snap out of it, I think. She needs you; at least she will be safe. You are the only one who can protect her, and you know you will never allow anyone to hurt her.
The thoughts rush through my head over and over again. What could I do?
I decide to keep quiet and pretend we are not home. I look at my little girl and we remain silent.
For what seemed like the next hour, the Devil kept bashing on the door. Why won’t someone call the police? Help us, help us, I think, feeling completely helpless. Can’t anyone else hear him? Why won’t he just go away?
I am not caving; the Devil is not getting in. I don’t know what he has taken, marijuana? (Don’t tell me it doesn’t badly affect some people.) Speed, injections, pills, alcohol, who knows!
This episode is worse than the previous one. The Devil’s actions just keep getting worse and more persistent. My daughter cannot see him rape me again. Yet he is bashing on the door and he sounds very angry.
I have no idea why, but then I realise it doesn’t matter; it doesn’t even have to be something I’ve done. If he gets in, I will cop it again.
In my mind, I start to conjure up a Plan B.
Trying to think logically and bringing myself back from fear, I go through my checklist:
I am blessed because my beautiful daughter is such a good girl. When I say to do something, she does it straight away. She never fights me, doesn’t back chat or challenge – she just does whatever I ask.
I have tried so hard to keep her away from seeing or experiencing any of the abuse. After all, this is her daddy.
It took me a while to realise I was living in abuse. The Devil was so good at making people like him, through manipulation and good looks, and making me believe everything was my fault. Sometimes my daughter witnessed the abuse and I just couldn’t protect her.
To survive, we needed to work as a team. As little as she was, she just blindly trusted me, which was a good thing.
The banging stops. Shit, shit, where is he now?
Did I lock the back door?
Did I close the bathroom and toilet windows?
Why can’t I remember? I can’t move. I feel physically paralysed with fear.
The Devil starts yelling, ranting over and over, “Open the fuckin’ door, you bitch, I know you are in there! The car is in the garage!” “Open the fuckin’ door! I won’t hurt you, I just want to talk.”
How many times have I heard that before? A fleeting thought – I have to move from this place. But I can figure that out later. For now, we just need to survive tonight.
The Devil goes quiet. The last chilling remark (I remember as if it was only yesterday) is “I’ll be back, you fuckin’ bitch, love to watch you burn and go to hell”.
My stomach drops into my toes. Shit, I have witnessed the burning cars he has stolen to get him from point A to point B, the fire brigade sirens screaming in the night.
The Devil would light the car on fire in another street and run through paddocks to wherever we lived. He would wake me up by pulling me out of bed to show me his work.
He had so much passion relaying how he loved fire and watching things burn. I remember his explanations that there were no finger prints and that people cannot be identified when burnt to a crisp.
The Devil appeared to have no soul. It’s hard to explain, but it was like he was a blank shell, void of emotion, no feeling, no remorse. He could do anything and find a way of justifying his actions – and he would get away with it.
Was he so high on drugs at those times that he never remembered what he said or did, or was he lying about his memory? I will never know. His truth and recollections were always different to mine.
Now, on this night, I realise just how much the Devil petrifies me. I realise I am no longer in love with this man, if I ever was.
Every time I try to break up with him, he comes back with a vengeance of promises, I will change, I’m so sorry, I can’t live without you and my family, I promise everything will be different this time. But it never lasted long he would try hard at first; however he couldn’t sustain it, always returning to his old self. At which time I would make more excuses feeling completely pathetic that I had wanted to believe him.
His eyes are always so dark and empty, I believe in my heart he could kill me and/or my daughter He will if I don’t give in and return to the relationship. Must I be the passive girlfriend who does what he wants and deals with his abusive nature?
Or – Option B? Think smarter and really escape this time.
During our relationship, the Devil had made sure I knew of different events he had escaped and he would talk about how stupid the police were; spruiking words like “they will never catch me”.
He was proud to tell me about these times, like he was a king and the law could not touch him. He just kept getting away with things, and every time he did, the next time his actions would be worse as he was more empowered.
Now tonight, I feel sick.
Oh my God! There is a petrol station just around the corner. If that’s where he’s headed, it won’t take him long to get back here.
I listen as his car starts and he spins off down the road. I hear the car driving away in the distance.
It’s our only chance. I grab my bag – which was always prepared for a getaway – I kept clothes for my daughter and work clothes in the boot of my car with blankets and pillows.
I didn’t know how I was leading this double life, unsure of how I was functioning.
I still worked full time. Had I really turned into such a chameleon?
I pick up my daughter still playing “Let’s be Quiet” with her. She still has her cute little hand across her mouth, not making a sound – even at such a young age she liked to win.
I check outside, looking through different windows to make sure a second person hasn’t driven off in the car, leaving the Devil waiting outside.
I had been ambushed like that before and raped repeatedly for my resistance that time.
I can’t see anyone, so taking a deep breath, with my daughter in my arms I open the back door and run to the garage. I place my daughter in the car and open the garage doors.
Confidently I reverse the car, not stopping to close the garage doors in the hope that he would see we’re not there when he returns. I pray the Devil would not burn the house down as I am renting, I don’t own it.
I quietly drive in the opposite direction to where the Devil went.
I know he will be pissed off and I don’t want to see him ever again. Each day his anger grows greater, the abuse is getting worse and worse. I don’t know who he is anymore, did I ever know?
I think about how I don’t care about my belongings – it is all just stuff. I could rebuild later but there is no way he is taking our lives.
That night, sleeping down a back street in the car with my princess, and too ashamed to tell my family, was the night I knew – I had to be smarter! I had to work out a plan through which he would never be able to hurt us again.
I didn’t sleep that night. I just sat there protecting my daughter and thinking, how do I escape?
If I was to recommend only one book for a domestic violence victim or worker to read in their time of need or career… Mel has provided such a clear and, at times, terrifying account that I felt like I was living in and also trying to escape her life.
Mel gives us a frightening insight into the dark and violent world of domestic violence… how a confident, positive and caring young woman is systematically subjected to fear, manipulation and control at the hands of this ‘devil’.
Mel's story inspires the courage to get the bloody hell out of there, points to the support available, and though you can't see it now, brings forward the absolute respect and gratitude your kids will have for you when you save them.
Mel’s story of domestic violence demonstrates how an intentional web of entrapment is woven, strand by strand, to isolate and debilitate the weaver’s prey. Even the most intelligent and capable of prey can find herself drawn into... an ever escalating, spiral of domestic abuse.
Finally, an honest and progressive book that will inevitably revolutionize how readers view domestic violence; a topic that is still perceived today as “taboo” despite the large number of lives that are grossly affected on a daily basis.